I believe the Wildlings descend from a race of men that came before the First Men. Over the millennia, the Maesters, and Andals confused the “first men” and the “First Men” lumping them into one people. The Wildlings are described as barbarians and savages similar to how conquerors referred to indigenous peoples. Ygritte and Osha have made comments which I felt may support this theory and I have recently found new information in TWOIAF.
Ygritte & Osha
Ygritte has made two comments which stick out in my mind which may have significance to the narrative:
“They’re not your lands! We’ve been here the whole time! You lot came along and just put up a big Wall and said it was yours!”
“The gods made the earth for all men t’ share. Only when the kings come with their crowns and steel swords, they claimed it was all theirs.”
Here we have Osha telling Bran nothing much different than the stories Old Nan’s stories. Why did Maester Luwin quiet her so quickly?
“Here, they are,” said Osha, as she bit off the end of the last bandage with her teeth. “North of the Wall, things are different. That’s where the children went , and the giants, and the other old races.”
Maester Luwin sighed. “Woman, by rights you ought to be dead or in chains. The Starks have treated you more gently than you deserve. It is unkind to repay them for their kindness by filling the boys’ heads with folly.”
Hadrian’s was GRRM’s influence for The Wall in Westeros
Wildlings being first to settle Westeros is a perfect parallel to Hadrian’s Wall. “(Hadrian) was the first to build a wall 80 miles long to separate the Romans from the barbarians” The Natives aka Barbarians were to the North and the South had been colonized and assimilated by the Romans.
The Walrus Men
Before I discuss the Walrus Men, I need to out point out what everyone has been discussing in the black stone threads.
- The Hightower has a black structure similar to the mazes of Lorath.
- The Seastone chair is “similar” in appearance according to an Ironborn Maester who has seen both
- The majority of the black structures have been near bodies of water and have been associated with “fishlike” peoples
Okay so here is what TWOIAF has to say about the Ironborn and Hightower origins:
WERE THE FIRST MEN truly first? Most scholars believe they were. Before their coming, it is thought, Westeros belonged to the giants, the children of the forest, and the beasts of the field. But on the Iron Islands, the priests of the Drowned God tell a different tale. […] “We came from beneath those seas, from the watery halls of the Drowned God who made us in his likeness and gave to us dominion over all the waters of the earth.” Even among the ironborn there are some who doubt this and acknowledge the more widely accepted view of an ancient descent from the First Men— even though the First Men, unlike the later Andals, were never a seafaring people. Certainly, we cannot seriously accept the assertions of the ironborn priests, who would have us believe that the ironmen are closer kin to fish and merlings than the other races of mankind.
“The labyrinthine nature of its interior architecture has led Archmaester Quillion to suggest that the fortress might have been the work of the mazemakers, a mysterious people who left remnants of their vanished civilization upon Lorath in the Shivering Sea. The notion is intriguing but raises more questions than it answers. An even more fanciful possibility was put forth a century ago by Maester Theron. Born a bastard on the Iron Islands, Theron noted a certain likeness between the black stone of the ancient fortress and that of the Seastone Chair [….] Theron’s rather inchoate manuscript Strange Stone postulates that both fortress and seat might be the work of a queer, misshapen race of half men sired by creatures of the salt seas upon human women. These Deep Ones, as he names them, are the seed from which our legends of merlings have grown, he argues, whilst their terrible fathers are the truth behind the Drowned God of the ironborn.“
- Here we see mermaid, half man creatures as the possible origins AND similarities to Lorath
Now lets take a look at Lorath. Although there appears to be a giant men connection, we still see the mention of Selkie or mermaid legend:
Lorath is the smallest, poorest, and least populous of the Nine Free Cities.Save for Braavos, it is also the northernmost. […] Though the Lorathi isles themselves are bleak and stony, the surrounding waters teem with shoals of cod, whales, and grey leviathans that gather and breed in the bay, and the outlying rocks and sea stacks are home to great colonies of walrus and seal. Salt cod, walrus tusks, sealskins, and whale oil form the greater part of the city’s trade.
Their bones tell us that they were massively built and larger than men, though not so large as giants. Some have suggested that mayhaps the mazemakers were born of interbreeding between human men and giant women. We do not known why they disappeared, though Lorathi legend suggests they were destroyed by an enemy from the sea: merlings in some versions of the tale, selkies and walrus-men in others.
For those not familiar with Selkies: “Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land.As the anthropologist A. Asbjorn Jon has recognised though, there is a strong body of lore that indicates that selkies “are said to be supernaturally formed from the souls of drowned people“.—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selkie
It should also be noted that selkies and mermaids purportedly lived in between Oldtown and the Iron Islands in the Shield Islands:
OWEN OAKENSHIELD (supposedly a son or direct decendant of Garth the Greenhand), who conquered the Shield Islands, driving the selkies and merlings back into the sea. ”
***Just make a mental note that Owen Oakenshield is a son of Garth Greenhand for a moment.
***It should also be noted that a fort on The Wall itself is named “Oakensheild”. Could this fort have been named after Owen Oakensheild? If yes, why if it is just wildlings and giants beyond the Wall? Why name a fort with Long Night purposes after the man who drove the Selkies away?
Also, The last Hightower King was known as “the Sea-Lion” (close relative to seals)
“The last Hightower king is still remembered as the Sea Lion. (Oldtown was the last of the ancient realms to bend the knee to Highgarden, not long after the last King of the Arbor was lost at sea, allowing his cousin, King Meryn III Gardener, to make the isle part of his domain).“
ALRIGHT, so now take a look at this tribe of Wildlings:
There is a queer tribe of Wildling Men from the Frozen shore called the Walrus Men. The men with the Antlers are what I believe to be a separate clan that will also be discussed.
“Their women were clad in sealskins , some with infants at their breasts. children shuffled along behind their mothers and looked up at Jon with eyes as dark and hard as the stones they clutched. Some of the men wore antlers on their hats, and some wore walrus tusks. The two sorts did not love each other, he soon gathered. A few thin reindeer brought up the rear, with the great dogs snapping at the heels of stragglers. “Be wary o’ that lot, Jon Snow,” Tormund warned him . “A savage folk. The men are bad, the women worse.”
“And there were folks fiercer even than Varamyr, from the northernmost reaches of the haunted forest , the hidden valleys of the Frostfangs, and evenqueerer places: the men of the Frozen Shore who rode in chariots made of walrus bones pulled along by packs of savage dogs,“
We also see that the Ironborn and the clans of the frozen shore have raided in the same spot, sort of like a halfway point which previously belonged to the Ironborn until it was won by the Starks.:
“She-bears, aye ,” said Lady Maege. “We have needed to be. In olden days the ironmen would come raiding in their longboats , or wildlings from the Frozen Shore .
Interestingly, Bear Island which has Ironborn ties and was frequently raided by the clans of the Frozen Shore is (supposedly) home to a special type of skinchanger that actually slips in and out of a bearskin rather than entering the mind of a bear as most other skinchangers…very similar to the abilities of a Selkie which slips in and out of the skin of a seal. Tormund also has a rather colorful story of a she-bear that slipped in and out of her bearskin
“All ripped and torn I was, and half me member bit right off, and there on me floor was a she-bear’s pelt.”
Now remember the story about the son of Garth the Greenhand who drove the selkies and mermaids off the Shield Islands? Take a look about the description of Garth the Greenhand:
“Some stories say he had green hands, green hair, or green skin overall. (A few even give him antlers, like a stag.)”
Now take a look again at how the Walrus Men and what appears to be a yet to be identified clan were described:
“Some of the men wore antlers on their hats, and some wore walrus tusks.The two sorts did not love each other, he soon gathered. “
Here is another excerpt which shows imagery of Renly wearing an antlered helm and a green suit of armor. Catelyn sees the reflection of a “drowned” woman in his green suit. Interestingly, Renly was married to Margaery of House Tyrell which is the House that is most associated with House Gardener.
“the helm crowned by a great rack of golden antlers. The steel was polished to such a high sheen that she could see her reflection in the breastplate, gazing back at her as if from the bottom of a deep green pond. The face of a drowned woman, Catelyn thought. Can you drown in grief?”
About Garth the Greenhand, there are some tales which also place him prior to the arrival of the First Men.
“that he preceded the arrival of the First Men by thousands of years, making him not only the First Man in Westeros, but the only man, wandering the length and breadth of the land alone and treating with the giants and the children of the forest. Some even say he was a god. There is disagreement even on his name. Garth Greenhand, we call him, but in the oldest tales he is named Garth Greenhair, or simply Garth the Green.”
- We also know that generally speaking, wildlings are characterized by a common distaste for feudalism. It should be know that most accounts given in TWOIAF show that a King was in place when the First Men first settled Westeros. In some stories it is the First King of Barrowtown, in other stories it is Garth the Greenhand.
- There have also been many questions about why the Wildlings ended up on the wrong side of the wall which have remained unanswered . How did the wildlings become so concentrated in the far north in the Other country? Why place them in the same lot with the COTF, the Giants, and the Others?
We also have a Maester in the Oldtown chapter of TWOIAF who states very clearly and specifically that there were “men before the first men” and that they were located in the Whispering sound which is the sea inlet that leads into the Honeywine River next to Oldtown.
“Were they First Men, as most scholars believe today? Or did they mayhaps descend from the seafarers and traders who had settled at the top of Whispering Sound in earlier epochs, the men who came before the First Men? We cannot know.“